Founded in 1953, The Canterbury Orchestra is a thriving group of enthusiastic players who regularly tackle major works from the symphonic repertoire. The orchestra meets to practice on Wednesday evenings during term time at St Stephens School, CT2 7AD
Canterbury Orchestra normally performs 3 concerts each year, mostly at the University of Kent's prestigious Colyer-Fergusson Hall.
The founding of Canterbury Orchestra, initially Canterbury Orchestral Society, in 1954 is credited to the initiative of the twins Douglas and Seymour Gaywood. Both men travelled regularly to play in the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra and decided in discussion with Douglas Hopkins, the then organist at Canterbury Cathedral, to establish an orchestra nearer to home. After advertising locally sufficient players came forward to realise this ambition and Douglas Hopkins conducted the first concert on May 28th 1954 at the Cathedral Chapter House under the leadership of Christopher Peto. The programme included Beethoven's First Symphony and Mozart's Piano Concerto in A minor K488 -- both of which have featured periodically in the succeeding approximately 150 concerts! Since that time we have had several long-term conductors, the longest serving of whom have been David Goodes and John Hursey. The present Musical Director, Andrew Lowen, took over in 2007 and has steered the Orchestra deftly through some challenging and interesting repertoire whilst steadily expanding our audience base.
The Orchestra soon moved from the Chapter House to the old Marlowe Theatre in St Margarets Street which remained its home until 1977, after which we were mainly hosted by St Edmunds School and King's School until about 2005. After that time the Orchestra performed chiefly at St Peter's Methodist Church until considerations of space led us to try first Christ Church University's facilities and then to settle on the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent .. which we hope will be home to the Orchestra for some time to come. Of course, not all our concerts have been in our home city and over the years the Orchestra has performed in many of the towns and villages of East Kent. Interestingly, the overall pattern has been similar to this year with big concerts in May and November and a lighter offering, often associated with a Charity, in the summer.
The Orchestra has taken pleasure in featuring many first class soloists, some of established stature such as Jack Brymer, Ian Crowther and Tony Coe, and frequently exceptionally talented performers at the beginning of their careers lend a particular sparkle to our concerts. The Orchestra itself has remained a body of enthusiastic amateurs, drawn mostly from North and East Kent who enjoy making music in each other's company and strive to perform at the highest level they can achieve to provide enjoyment and access to the orchestral repertoire for local people. Over the past few years, the orchestra has encouraged good young players to join and the membership currently includes a wide range of ages, from school pupils to seasoned musicians who have been playing with the orchestra for over 30 years: a productive blend of youth and experience. The young players form a mobile population, so it follows that there are occasional vacancies, particularly in the brass and string sections, and talented players are always welcome.
Rehearsals resumed in September 2021.
Interested in playing with the Canterbury Orchestra?
Call Sue Gray, Canterbury Orchestra Manager, on 01227 938321; or email email@example.com to find out whether we have vacancies